Check out this great clip of French acting legend Belmondo at the pinnacle of his popularity, hamming it up in the stereotypical role of ‘ballsy cop with a Colgate smile’ that he favoured in the second part of his career – imagine a jovial Dirty Harry or a wisecracking Charles Bronson. It’s a turn light years away from his early career as a Nouvelle Vague luminary.
In this scene from The Professional (1981), Bebel (as he’s affectionately nicknamed in France), with leather jacket wide open and pastry in hand, enters a little Parisian cafe well-set on teaching a hard lesson to a slimy wife-beater. I can understand that the lack of subtitles may be a downer for non-francophones, but you needn’t worry; the swaggering Jean-Paul is able to communicate the international language of macho pastry-dunking with ease – a Gallic equivalent to Lee Van Cleef’s antisocial cigarillo lighting in For A Few Dollars More, if you will. Also, relish in the awesome slapping sound effects.
The last line, superbly, is: “The croissant? Put it on my friend’s tab”.